May 2008

Last Saturday, Anju and I went to the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust to wander around someplace that didn’t feel like a city. It was wonderful. The trails were easy, which was good because I’d forgotten to wear shoes other than birki’s, and it really felt rural. We couldn’t hear traffic, really, except for the occasional plane. And there were lots and lots of birds, some of which I’d never seen before.

very friendly bird

This is a tree swallow (based on my field guide and several people’s input). It kindly sat in its bird box, right next to the path, while I took its portrait. (There were also a few verifiable bluebirds, and some turkeys, but they were shyer.)

vetch with ants

grass flowers

I was struck by how purple these grass flowers were. (They’re part of the meadow restoration project.)

I. I finished a worsted-ish-weight lace project, so I started another one.  No, it doesn’t look like lace yet, but it will soon–it’s the Wool Peddler’s Shawl from Folk Shawls.


II. It’s starting to really feel like summer, so what did I pull out of hiding?  A blanket.  The green freeform blanket has acquired a few extra segments, and I’m working on another one.


I’m still really enjoying this, but I think the next blanket (reds/golds/browns) is going to be entirely rectangles.  Maintaining a flat piece is hard when I don’t have a flat work surface: I misjudge the real angles between bits of blanket.

III. I carried my camera around all day on Sunday, and the only pictures I took were of the clematis across the street from my house.  I love the vibrancy of the color, though.



These are from my walk home on Tuesday.

I finished the flame/stork’s nest scarf! Only…five months, start to finish–not terrible. I like it, too. (This is also, I believe, the project of mine that’s garnered the most “That’s for me, right?” comments and threats of theft, which doesn’t hurt my opinion of it.)  Really, though, orangey handspun bfl is hard to steer wrong.





Pattern: Stork’s Nest Scarf from Jan/Feb ’08 Piecework (minus one sideways pattern repeat)

Needle: 4mm bamboo circ

Yarn: not quite all of the 5oz of bfl I dyed last summer–I’ve got about a fist-sized ball left, maybe 50 yards?  


I’m looking forward to figuring out what to do with the rest of the yarn.  Alas, I will have to wait until next fall to wear the scarf, but I’ll be ready when the cold weather returns.

I love making jam. I love the process, and I love being able to taste the best parts of summer in the middle of winter. (It’s a lot easier to appreciate summer when it’s jam in February, when I’m not suffering from the heat.)

raspberry-lime jam from last fall

Raspberry-lime jam, from my dad’s backyard raspberry patch, canned last September on my trip north.

strawberry-rhubarb butter with ginger

Strawberry-rhubarb butter with ginger, canned on Saturday night.


Froth on the cooking strawberry-rhubarb stuff. I love the patterns.

Should you want to make something like my strawberry-rhubarb butter: Take a quart of strawberries [chopped], two medium-sized rhubarb stalks [also chopped], about a teaspoon of minced fresh ginger, and five cups of sugar. Cook until the fruit is mushy and everything is mixed pretty well. Purée with an immersion blender. Return to heat and slowly bring to a boil, allowing moisture to escape.  Maintain at 220ºF for two minutes and then can in a hot water bath.


My parents were in town for a while this week, and we took a field trip to Bartram’s Garden.  This shooting star is in part of the more-formal garden area.

I’ve been meaning to finish posting about Maryland Sheep and Wool, if for no other reason than I’d like to maintain the organizational use of my blog, but I’ve been running around like a madwoman.  I mentioned last week that I went to see Eddie Izzard last Monday; well, I also went out to see Philadanco on Friday and to the Barnes Foundation on Saturday afternoon.  Photography wasn’t allowed in either one of those, but it was permitted on the (lovely, lovely) grounds of the Barnes, where I found, among other things, this columbine.


But back to the sheep!  This sheep’s expression of contentment makes me smile.


On Saturday afternoon, I made my first purchase of unwashed fleece:



This is a total of three ounces of llama fiber (plus some extra to make up for the weight of the dirt); the brown is from Bella and the silver is from Moonbeam.  (Alas, I’ve forgotten the name of the farm.)  I’m thinking I’ll blend these together, possibly with the addition of some of the natural-brown BFL I bought (which didn’t seem picture-worthy).

My Sunday morning impulse-buy fiber was two ounces each of three colors of wool from Handspun by Stefania:



These are both corriedale/silk dyed with osage orange and indigo.  I love seeing the range of possibilities like this.  (Actually, I spent a lot of time looking at natural dyes and mordants.  I’m not sure why I got into spinning before dyeing, but I’m getting more and more absorbed.)


This, well, part of the reason I stopped at Stefania’s booth was because I wanted something fun to spin that afternoon.  I did, in fact, start spinning this (BFL dyed with cochineal, fustic, & madder) while at the festival–at the Ravelry meetup, in fact.  This is maybe two thirds of the two ounces I bought.

I might have finished spinning the BFL if I hadn’t gotten sidetracked by this:


Cashmere-tussah, from last summer’s trip to Colorado.  I’d been thinking I needed to spin this on a spindle, and I hadn’t really spun much on spindles until MDSW…  If I had an unlimited supply of this stuff, my spindles would get a lot more exercise.

I was going to put all of my yarn and fiber from Maryland into one post. I was also planning to take a picture on the way to work this morning for ECF. Alas, it has been overcast, making fiber photography tricky, and today it was pouring, so I have failed at both those plans. Here, then, are two of the more colorful purchases I made on Saturday:


400 yds of fingering-weight wool from Spirit Trail, which will become some sort of shawl


2 4oz bundles of sliver (wool and seacell) from Fleece Artist, purchased from a vendor whose name I don’t recall right now; I’m thinking of combining these somehow, but I’m not sure if I want to spin them together or ply them together or what.


Even though I knew that MDSW was coming up, I jumped at the chance to order a couple of these batts of Abby‘s when Amy got them in.  They arrived today.  I’m in the middle of spinning some BFL from Handspun by Stefania (pics of MDSW spoils soon), so I’m simply admiring the batts for now, but they’re luscious.  This is going to be fun.

Maryland Sheep & Wool was excellent. It didn’t go quite as I’d hoped, because nothing’s perfect (perfect wouldn’t’ve included the rain or the mosquito bites, for example), but it was still a great weekend away from Philly and surrounded by yarn and fiber and fiber animals and knitter-types. It was also, however, exhausting, and going out last night to see Eddie Izzard did not help. (Note to self: do not schedule evening activities for the night after a sheep-and-wool. You will be too tired to fully appreciate them.)

Here, then, are a few pictures of animals at the festival, plus a link to an essay about media interactivity and mental surplus. (I don’t remember who posted about it, but it’s definitely worth reading.

Looking for the Mouse

pygora kid



I also have to add that I spent much of the weekend exclaiming about how much I love my new camera.  I still haven’t gotten used to having a point-and-shoot with so many capabilities (it’s actually worth changing the ISO setting!), but learning is going to be fun.


Off to finish packing and then drive southward. See you Sunday evening!